Power Defense is a fun and exciting twist to the tower defense genre for the DSi Ware and 3DS E Store. Players control a moving base and must manage tower resources by plugging and unplugging towers. This is the first professional game in which I had a role as a Jr. Designer. Now through practice I have become more involved in future projects at PlayEveryWare during the developmental stages. This is also my first professional example of world building for a multigame expanded universe scenario.
Assisted with game concept and rules of play
During the initial design, I played a junior role helping to build upon the game concept and rules of play. Learning how to build a GDD and how to present my ideas in a structured way was very helpful and allowed me to communicate better with my art and with other parts of the team. Using this combination of art and game design has been very helpful when explaining abstract ideas or systems for projects.
Built mythos for humorous multigame expanded universe
In the cinematic stills for the game below you can catch a glimpse of what the world has in store. I personally thought about trying to get the feel of mixing the fun and exciting world of Hanna-Barbera action cartoons with the diversity of Star Trek, which lend themselves well to a universe where many types of things and characters can exist without stepping on each others toes. On top of the fun setting, I wanted to create characters people could relate to. “Power Defense” allowed me to start with archetypal protagonists that people would instantly know, as I was not initially allowed to use dialogue in the game. Having the ability to create this world on paper and as an artist has been especially rewarding due to the full control of the content I get to put out in regards to the story and universe.
Communicated design ideas visually between art and programming teams
One of the things I enjoy about creative endeavors is collaboration, and with Power Defense I had a very fun back and forth being part of the design and art side of things. Below are some examples of how we communicated some of the visual design problems.
This is an example of what kinds of layouts I would receive in terms of level design. At this point we would discuss the level ideas and what we would like the player to do or the mechanics we would focus on. If there were changes I thought needed to be made I would add my own take to this rough map. From there I would talk about the story progression and what kind of look our final level design might have. Finally, enemy waves are added and the level is tested to make sure we should move ahead. We use this level of art and add notes that stay visible in game to make sure our thoughts are seen across departments allowing for equal and easy entry into the process.
Here is the base level look. From here we decide if there are any final changes we would like to see before going to the final artwork. By the time we are at this stage, the work adjustments are minor and are more of a cautionary glance over before we go final, something we learned after spending time developing level and artwork to find it not usable in game.
Final level work. At this point we have passed around the first two steps and made all adjustments we intended to make. This is a simple step that requires only slight collision changes and adding new art to the already working and polished level.
When I propose or am in charge of finding a solution to a design problem, I often create a mock up with different options so that way we can create a dialogue as to where we would like to take the solution.
The final solution to this problem was combining the artwork and text, like in the top example, onto the bottom screen, allowing for more help options on the top screen, since this would be a tutorial setup.
Since the game is played mostly through the UI, this created a really fun art/game design approach as to how to make the UIthe center pieces of the puzzle, but allow for room for the player to see what was going on. Since plugging and unplugging is the central mechanic, we had to come up with something that felt right for that action while sticking to our desire for a simple one motion action. In the end we went with a drag and drop approach, something most people are familiar with and something that feels right in terms of plugging and unplugging.
This is the hint that appears to players during the tutorial to explain the mechanic in case they forgot how it works. The drag and drop is actually prominently featured from the start screen where the player must use it to start the game.
Players now know that they have to drag the plug looking UI into the socket in order to do things. This approach also cleared up the screen for action.
Working with the people at PlayEveryWare helped me grow as a designer and has been a blessing. I have learned a lot of different ways to communicate ideas and set up systems through this project.